DHAKA: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the countrymen to stay alert against cohorts of 1971 war criminals saying they did not deserve forgiveness.
“Remain alert against those who upset the dignity of Independence and handed the national flag over to war criminals and anti-liberation forces,” she told an Awami League discussion to mark the Ekushey February and the International Mother Language Day in the Krishibid Institution auditorium at Farmgate here.
The premier, also the Awami League president, added: “The nation cannot forgive them and will not do it (and) it is my expectation to the nation.”
She said some elements were still there in the country who were still shedding tears for Pakistan as “their heart and mind remain in Pakistan though they are leading a comfort life and enjoying the fruits of Bangladesh”.
The Awami League chief also urged people to protect them from these “lovers of Pakistan” saying “this is my appeal to the countrymen”.
Awami League’s presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Advocate Abdul Matin Khasru, General Secretary Obaidul Quader, Emeritus Professor and Nazrul Institute Chairman Dr Rafiqul Islam, writer and historian Dr Syed Anwar Hossain spoke at the function moderated by party’s publicity and publication secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud.
The premier said the historic Language Movement subsequently led the nation towards the struggle for independence and eventually Bangladesh earned it in exchange for blood of three million martyrs.
“But it is unfortunate for the nation that after Bangabandhu’s assassination, his killers were put place in parliament, while war criminals, who raped our mothers and sisters and carried out massacre on this soil, were made ministers,” she said.
The premier recalled that there was a time after Bangabandhu’s assassination when freedom fighters dared to highlight their identity even for applying for a government job.
“What unfortunate we were . . . such a situation was created after 1975 when the rajakars had their mounting influence in every sphere,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the nation now regained its confidence and freedom fighters now felt proud to be introduced as 1971 veterans as her government upheld the Liberation War spirit and took a series of steps to portray its true history and nation’s sacrifice for the independence.
“So the people will have to remain vigilant so that their confidence is not lost again and the country is not plunged into darkness like the post-1975 period,” she said.
The premier, however, expressed her annoyance over a general negligence by the younger generation in learning and practicing Bangla language in a proper manner and added that she came to know that the students of other subjects could not take Bangla as a subsidiary subject.
“We will have to sit with the UGC and universities about the issue . . . why this is happening and why such negligence is shown towards Bangla,” she questioned.
The premier particularly criticised private universities for not making any arrangement for teaching and learning Bangla language and literature.
“We’ve given permission to set up many private universities . . . but there is no arrangement for teaching and learning of Bangla language and literature at these universities, why it will be so,?” she said.
Laying utmost importance on practising mother language, the prime minister said “we will have to uphold the dignity of our mother tongue and give due dignity to it. It should not be limited to only observing the day,”.
Referring to making invitation card, particularly wedding, in English, she said this trend has been spread like a disease. “I don’t understand that why we’ll have to show such poorness,” she said.
The prime minister said Dr Anwar Hossain and Dr Rafiqul Islam today raised some important issues in this discussion. “I note down their suggestions and these will have to be solved,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is not against learning of other languages. “The world is now in the grip of the people due to influence of the technology and to keep pace with the world, we’ll have to also learn other languages,” she said.
“But I don’t believe that we won’t be developed without learning other language,” she said referring to the Japanese.
She said once the Japanese established themselves as the most developed nation in the world by learning their own language. “They still use their own language,” she said.
The prime minister also expressed her anguish over writing signboards in English instead of Bangla.
Putting emphasis on writing higher court verdicts in Bangla, the prime minister said the common people who don’t know English cannot understand the verdict. “The litigants have to know about the verdicts from their lawyers,” she said, adding they have to give scope for knowing and realizing the judgments.
The prime minister said writing judgments in Bangla has started in lower court. “We hope it will begin in the higher court in future … if needed translation of verdict is made in English … we’re not against the translation,” she said.
While taking part in the discussion, Dr Rafiqul Islam demanded of the government to constitute a language commission to be headed by a former chief justice to check distortion of language and increase practice of Bangla language.
“The commission will look into the matter that where are our faults and shortcomings in practising mother language,” she said.
The prime minister recalled that Bangabandhu initiated the Language Movement when he was a student of the Law Department of Dhaka University.
She said the Father of the Nation had constituted Bhasha Sangram Parishad comprising Tamaddun Majlish, Student League and other student bodies.
The prime minister said in 1956, the Awami League formed government and Hussein Shahid Suhrawardhy became the prime minister. “In that year Pakistan’s first constitution was framed where Bangla got the dignity of a state language alongside Urdu,” she said.
“Bangla would not have got the dignity of a state language had the Awami League not formed the government,” she said.
She said the then Awami government in 1956 declared 21 February as a holiday and took a project for construction of Shaheed Minar, allocated money and started its work. “But the scheme was not implemented at that time due to the declaration of martial law by General Ayub Khan,” she said.